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Ralph Teller

Vitamin C Natural Food Sources for Optimum Health

by Ralph Teller

Vitamin C Facts and Health Benefits

Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is naturally present in some foods. As humans are unable to internally synthesize Vitamin C, it is an essential vitamin that we obtain only from our diet. High levels of Vitamin C concentration in our cells and tissues are found in white blood cells, eyes, adrenal glands, pituitary gland, and our brain.

Vitamin C plays several key functions necessary to our optimum health, including:

  • - Collagen. Vitamin C is required for the biosythesis of Collagen. Collagen is a group of naturally occurring proteins which make up about 25% to 35% of our whole-body protein content. Collagen is a key ingredient of our tendons, ligaments and skin, and is also abundant in our cornea, cartilage, bone, and blood vessels.
  • - Wound Healing. Collagen also is an essential component of connective tissue, which plays a vital role in wound healing.
  • - Iron Absorption. Vitamin C improves the absorption of nonheme iron, the form of iron present in plant-based foods. See Natural Sources of Iron
  • - Immune System. Vitamin C is important to maintain a strong immune system, reflected in part by the high concentration of Vitamin C in white blood cells. White blood cells help build a strong immune by defending the body against both infectious disease and foreign materials. See How to Prevent and Treat Colds Naturally
  • - Teeth, Gums and Eyes.Vitamin C promote strong teeth, gums and eyes.
  • - Antioxidant. Research is examining whether Vitamin C, by limiting the damaging effects of free radicals through its antioxidant activity, might help prevent or delay the development of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, and other diseases in which oxidative stress plays a role.

Athletes need higher amounts of Vitamin C to help keep their tendons and ligaments strong to prevent injury and to help to absorp iron to make red blood cells. Women of child bearing age also have increased needs for Vitamin C for red blood cell production.

Natural Food Sources of Vitamin C

Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of Vitamin C.

Natural Food Sources of Vitamin C

FoodMilligrams (mg) per serving Percent (%) DV*
Red pepper, raw, ½ cup95158
Guava, ¼ cup 94 157
Orange juice, ¾ cup93155
Orange, 1 medium70117
Grapefruit juice, ¾ cup70117
Kiwifruit, 1 medium64107
Green pepper, raw, ½ cup60100
Broccoli, cooked, ½ cup5185
Strawberries, fresh, ½ cup4982
Brussels sprouts, cooked, ½ cup4880
Lemons, 1 lemon 44 73
Papaya, ½ cup 43 72
Grapefruit, ½ medium 3965
Broccoli, raw, ½ cup3965
Tomato juice, ¾ cup3355
Cantaloupe, ½ cup2948
Cabbage, cooked, ½ cup2847
Cauliflower, raw, ½ cup2643
Potato, baked, 1 medium2033
Tomato, raw, 1 medium1728
Spinach, cooked, ½ cup915
Green peas, cooked, ½ cup813
*DV = Daily Value. DVs were developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of products within the context of a total diet

Vitamin C Recommended Daily Intake

Intake recommendations for vitamin C and other nutrients are provided in the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) developed by the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine. The RDAs for Vitamin C are based on its known physiological and antioxidant functions in white blood cells and are much higher than the amount required for protection from deficiency.

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Vitamin C

0–6 months40 mg*40 mg*  
7–12 months50 mg*50 mg*  
1–3 years15 mg15 mg  
4–8 years25 mg25 mg  
9–13 years45 mg45 mg  
14–18 years75 mg65 mg80 mg115 mg
19+ years90 mg75 mg85 mg120 mg
SmokersIndividuals who smoke require 35 mg/day more vitamin C than nonsmokers.
* Adequate Intake (AI)

Vitamin C Deficiency

If you do not get enough vitamin C you can develop Scurvy. Symptoms of scurvy include general weakness, anemia, gum disease and bruising.

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Articles on Vitamin C

Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin C, Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet, National Institute of Health

PublicationNatural Sources of Vitamin C, by Deborah Dunham, Livestrong

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